By April Clark Honaker
After teaching for five years in Ouachita Parish, Claire Haight returned home to Lincoln Parish last year. She is now in her second year of teaching first grade in Simsboro.
Haight grew up in Ruston and graduated from Cedar Creek School. From there, she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana Tech University in elementary education Grades 1-5 and special education. Haight also recently completed her master’s in educational leadership from Louisiana State University in Shreveport.
Prior to her return to Lincoln Parish, Haight gained experience teaching third and fourth grade, as well as first and second grade special education.
These experiences taught Haight that every child is unique.
“Every child doesn’t think the same or work the same,” she said.
They all have their own strengths, which may not be the same as another child’s strengths.
“It’s not a one size fits all for everybody,” Haight said.
Haight makes a point to work with kids on the areas they need help in.
“I make sure kids get what they need,” she said, “but I also push them to do things on their own or in groups.”
Haight especially likes working with her students on their reading skills. In first grade, some students are already reading while others are still grasping the basics. Haight enjoys watching her students begin to grasp how words go together and seeing them get excited to be able to share their skills.
It’s rewarding for her to see how they progress throughout the year from their first assignments to their last. Haight said teaching first grade is special, too, because everything is exciting and fun at this age.
In first grade, students are just beginning to feel a little more independent, and fostering that independence is important to Haight.
“It’s hard to let them lead,” she said. “You want to help them get where they’re trying to be. It’s hard to let them struggle, but through that struggle is how they learn.”
Although this year is only Haight’s second in her current position, she was recently selected as the lower elementary Teacher of the Year for her school.
“I’m very honored,” she said. “I’m speechless. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”
Haight said she is really blessed to have people around her that push and support her.
She attributes her success in the last two years to being part of Simsboro’s family atmosphere.
“I couldn’t have gotten through last year without their support,” she said.
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